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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


New Jobs for GAI?


There we were five of us, two Russians and three foreign journalists, driving home at 5 a.m. from a night out. The streets were deserted. Then along came the GAI, cruising in their big Yank-tank police car. They sat there at a green traffic light, until it turned red -- ignoring the Lada that blasted past them through the red light -- and waited until we drove past, then swung round behind us and flashed their lights. We pulled over. We hadn't done anything wrong, but we knew the routine.

Two machine gun-toting bullies swaggered up to our car and barked at our friend at the wheel "Do you have any guns?" An officer frisked our friend for non-existent weapons, then aggressively ordered him to sit in his patrol car while he checked to see if our car had been reported stolen.

I guess it must have checked out because he then went to Phase Two of the unwritten Harassment Of Foreigners Code: He demanded to see all our papers. They went into a huddle, then shouted for our passports and visas -- knowing full well that as journalists, all we are required to carry is valid accreditation.

Then the truth came out: They demanded $200 from him! But all he had was $35 which they begrudgingly snatched from him, and like sulking children, threw his documents back in his face and screeched off into the night.

I have a message for Sergei Fyodorov, head of the GAI: Please tell your fine-givers to stop treating foreigners like criminals and to pay more attention to stopping the real crime in Moscow, not foreigners on their way home. And to General Sergei Almazov, director of the federal tax police, I have the solution to your abysmal tax collection record: Replace your officers with the GAI.

Peter Enright

Future of the Land

In response to "Buying Land Is Next Hurdle for Private Firms," Nov. 26.


It was good to read your informative article about land privatization,but this critical part of Russia's economic restructuring deserves more of the kind of coverage that you give to enterprise privatization and real estate as a whole. If earlier doubts about political stability were the primary factor in slowing direct investment by multi-national corporations, the lack of a land code or wide availability of privatized land serves as a break on investment.

At the Oct. 23 conference on Land Privatization and the Investment Process, Boris Mints, regional coordinator of land privatization for the State Property Committee, emphasized the need to speed up the process. The desire to move quickly is believed to be behind the rumored decree to hand over land to enterprises free of charge.

But Mr. Mints noted that such rumors have had the opposite effect, prompting enterprises to take a wait-and-see attitude. Since a decree giving land to all enterprises would necessarily involve government compensation of those firms that have already privatized their land, such a cash draining order should not be expected soon.

What is needed is continued development of Russian experts such as those coming out of the Enterprise Land Sales project, and increased press coverage of privatization.

Darrell Stanaford

Industrial Real Estate Advisor

The Western Group